Thursday 19 March 2009

Kerrera - day 1

Kerrera ferry
Golden sunshine as we walk the coastal road in the opposite direction from yesterday towards Gallanach Road jetty. A low, mossy, old wall separates the road from Kerrera Sound; to our left rearing cliffs of stone, grass and tree. Stunningly beautiful in the sun. Past sail boats anchored off the shore, weather-beaten cottages.

At the jetty you revolve a board from white to black to attract the ferry. We watch it glide over, then ram itself onto the concrete ramp. Dog and car off, we get on, and the ferry moves back across the still water. Docking the other side, we pause, wondering when we pay, until the lady who's been over to buy a mop and nothing else explains that we pay on our way back. The eight of us gaggle off like geese to a boulder strewn shoreline, trees against crag, rusting discarded equipment, and an incline to a red phone box and a blue hut. The group thins out as we're left behind, slowly following the dusty track to the western tip of the island. The track is only visible a little at a time, forever curling, dipping or climbing. Wonders surround us. Pebbly bays, rotting boats, steep hills, thin waterfalls, kestrels and buzzards, peacock butterflies flit and pause, oystercatchers squeak. In one bay the squawking becomes very loud. We're puzzled until we pass a lady who has four parrots in a pen and other caged birds spilling from doorways.

Just before the white bunkhouse we follow the sign to Gylen castle. A brook cascades down a gentle hill; dark and frothy. Tall lozenges of green covered rock stand before us, leading the eye to the ruined tower standing above it all. The brook drops down to the beach. A great place for a picnic. Boots off and feet in the stream. The water is just about bearable, eased by the moss underfoot. A sheep investigates, cheese roll is eaten, nap is taken. We follow the grassy path up to the castle standing between two bays on a thin finger of land. The door is open and you can enter and even go up some steps to the second floor. The sign explains the castle had excellent defences but lacked a fresh water supply. It was besieged and defeated, only being inhabited for 65 years.

The main track ends and we move onto a footpath. The north side feels different to what we've seen before as the shore is exchanged for hills. We're hot, tired and thirsty as we rejoin the track and head back to the ferry, which we have just missed. We have an hour's wait; I have a snooze, T watches an oystercatcher.  


Anonymous said...

Did you go on this "ferry" ?

Anonymous said...

That comment was from liz

TC + DC said...

We sure did. Luckily the water was as smooth as glass. I'm not sure how it fares in rougher conditions. You summon it over by flipping the ferry board on the mainland from white to black. The lady in the left of the frame is an islander who had been over to the mainland to buy a mop.